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Which street legal dirt bike to explore Washington


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I sold my 05 YZ450F and am on the market for a new bike. I have narrowed things down a bit based on how and where I will be riding. Really enjoyed the power, suspension, and weight of the YZ. Fun anywhere on the dirt except wide open areas where the four speed fell short.

I am 5'7" 165lbs. and have been riding for over 30 years. Mostly desert, dunes, and outdoor MX, being from CA. Now living in Washington, the terrain has obviously changed a bit, and I want something street legal to explore what this beautiful state has to offer. Not looking for a commuter or a cross-country.

Criteria:

80% dirt bike

250lb range

Livable at 60-65 mph, happy at trail/track speeds

$7,500 range

Reliable

E-start

In my area bikes are priced roughly:

08 KTM 450 $7,100

08 Aprilia RXV 450 $5,999

09 Husky TE510 $6,899

09 DRZ400s $5,499

09 WR250 $5,199

09 KLX250 $4,199

09 KLR650 $4,499

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Finding a street legal bike with the button at 250 lbs will be a challenge, my off-road only, air cooled TTR-250 features the button and weighs in at 270ish. You'll have to get creative with losing non-essential parts and you'll still have a challenge to get it to 250 lbs.

Out of your list, I'd immediately gravitate toward the DRZ400. Reliable as hell motor, lots of power, lots of dealer, aftermarket, and rider support, good on and off road. My brother has one I've ridden on and off road and it's a great ride, if only a little on the stout side when off-road (317 lbs wet).

The KTM, Aprilia & Husky are cool bikes, but dealer support and parts availability are limited on the road. I'd personally avoid them for long trips.

KLX 250 is a great bike with good support and gets you closer to your weight goal (278 lbs dry), but if you're doing a lot of over road traveling to get to your off-road destinations, the 250 will fall short on the road, especially if loaded with gear and if you have to do any highway stints. This would be my bike of choice for lots of off road riding that doesn't have too much on-road stuff between though, as it's so light weight and nimble.

WR250 is not street legal from the manufacturer, so would require some work and subjecting yourself to inspection and dmv issues (unless it's already done by previous owner). But the WR is designed for competition with power friendly features like titanium valves. But power friendly often doesn't = road friendly. Ti valves make for more power (as opposed to heavier steel valves), but Ti wears out and goes out of spec much quicker, especially when being ridden at hwy speeds for long stints, instead of "burping" your way through the trails.

I had a DR 650 for 18 months but sold it. It was a great bike for dual sport, but my inseam is only 30 inches and I felt like I was riding a giraffe, so I was never confident to go off road more than just groomed dirt roads. Too tall and a bit top heavy for me. Kuba link might make a lowering shock link for the KLR though. If you're going to stick to mostly groomed off-road stuff (fire roads and such), KLR would be great, and the fairing is nice in cruddy weather, and this bike would be even better on the hwy stints. There is also a ton of cool aftermarket off-road and touring accys for the KLR... see www.twistedthrottle.com and other similars. But check out the curb wt. on the KLR at 432 lbs!

For all around, dual sporting, especially with any tighter single track stuff, the DRZ400S would be my steed. If it was lots of hwy miles in between and mostly groomed dirt roads I was looking at, I'd get the KLR650 with a lowering kit.

Only my opinion (you know what they say about those), but hope it helps. Have a great ride!­čÖé

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I have a KTM and a DRZ E model. For what you have described you should get a KTM or BETA, you'll be very happy on either. BTW: the S model DRZ is heavy and way under powered even compared to the E, and the suspension sucks on both. The KTM and Beta have the best tranny in the DS world. IF you want a 50/50 bike the DRZ is king.

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I just bought a DRZ 400 4 months ago, and wish I would have bought the KTM. In fact considering selling it. Too heavy for single-track technical riding. OK on trails, and barely ok on roads. (I'd also stay away from Beta; a friend bought one several years ago, and could never get it to run right. Ended up trading in on WR250f, which works every time (but not street legal).

Conclusion; I'd buy the KTM 450 EXC. Good luck.

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08 KTM 450 $7,100

assuming its an exc..... I was quite impressed with the 08 or 09 my dad's buddy was on, even in some nasty single track trails in Western Washington...

I would not (personally) consider these bikes at all

09 DRZ400s $5,499

09 WR250 $5,199 ®

09 KLX250 $4,199

09 KLR650 $4,499

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...I'm going to go back a bit and say that, yes, the KTM 450 EXC is a seriously bitchin' bike. I haven't been able to put too much time on one, but my brother last year rode his on the Trans America trail from Tennessee to Oregon with a bunch of buddies who all ride the larger KTM bikes, some literally just dusted off after Baja, and he said it was a phenomenal steed. He only wished for more displacement on the long flat stints (read Oklahoma dirt roads), but in the tight stuff, his ultra light 450 EXC even out shined the big KTM Baja bikes. He loves his bike.

I only shied away from recommending the KTM in my earlier response because of much more limited dealer availability, but that was perhaps an overzealous response, as the 450 EXC meets so much of your original criteria so well...

80% dirt bike - YES

250lb range - 251 lbs dry

Livable at 60-65 mph, happy at trail/track speeds - YES

$7,500 range - YES (for a used 08 or 09)

Reliable - Tennessee to Oregon without any major issues.

E-start - YES, and a Kick in case your battery takes a dump.

Only note is that you could buy two of other bikes you're considering for the price of the KTM, but quality has its price.

Search "Go Big Ride" on Facebook to see my brother's adventures on the Trans Am Trail.

Happy hunting and ride often!

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I personally would recommend bikes in the 525/530 category for their all-round, smooth power available at all RPM's. The best choices here are the KTM and Beta with their wide ratio 6 speed trannies. Husky's are great bikes, but their close ratio 6 speed tranny would be severely limiting for the type of riding you have in mind. Don't overlook the '07 KTM 525 EXC which is the last year for the reliable RFS engine.

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When you state you had a YZ 450 and like power, suspension then you only have a couple of choices. Husky, ktm.

Be ready to accept less power with the others, however still great bikes. There comes a time that we can all lower our standards and get a more friendly easy, lighter bike but that time aint here for me. I did the exc 450 and it a great street legal bike.

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